"Borges y Yo" in its original Spanish, "Borges and I" is a 345-word short story (or semifiction philosophical essay) written in 1960 by Jorge Luis Borges, the Argentine writer and poet. It was first published in Spanish in the short story collection, El Hacedor, and published again in English as part of Labyrinths: Selected Stories & Other Writings, translated and edited in 1964 by Donald A. Yates and James E. Irby.
Within the story, an unnamed first person narrator attempts to draw a distinction between himself and the man named Borges, but he experiences a conflict of perspective and Self: "I" may refer to the narrator of all stories by Jorge Luis Borges, or "I" may refer to the author of the stories, and these may not be the same individual. Likewise, "Borges" may refer to the fictional (or at least fictionalized) main character of nearly all stories written by Jorge Luis Borges, but "Borges" may also refer strictly to the author, who lived a non-fictional life. The epistemological dispute between which Self is depicted by the story, and which Self is the author of the story, is the central topic of this story itself. The narrator mentions having encountered Borges through external information about the man: "I" has read his mail, has read about him in a book (perhaps even one of his own books, in which he is a character), and knows with certainty that they share the same preferences and habits in their respective lives. "The other shares these preferences," the narrator says, "but in a vain kind of way that turns them into an actor’s attributes."
The narrator then speaks of how his existence is increasingly becoming only a vehicle by which to facilitate Borges' continued writing, and he asserts that while Borges is no poorly skilled writer, the things he writes belong not to Borges, nor to "I," but to "language and tradition," as do all other pieces of art of any good quality. This attitude occurs elsewhere in Borges' writings, especially in the short story Pierre Menard, autor del Quijote, where the ownership of an author over the works he writes is held in contest with the ownership that a reader or an entire culture may have over those works.
Even today, we may argue that there is a third persona who participates implicitly in this narrative, apart from the author (the man himself) and the narrator (the man portrayed), and that is the mythic concept of Borges, as he is understood by his readers, after the fact of his death. There is a Borges who lives as a character in pages, and a Borges who factually lived and put ink onto those pages, but there is also a Borges of pure concept, an abstracted and not depicted Borges, not an experienced and lived Borges, whom we only come to know as the ambient mind of brilliance which created The Book of Sand, The Library of Babel, The Aleph, The Zahir, and countless other thought-warping explorations of infinity and consciousness.
Here you may read it in both English and the original Spanish.
Iron Noder 2015, 28/30